For most people, the prospect of having to go to a nursing home isn’t an inviting one, and many wonder if there are any alternatives. The short answer is yes, and today’s discussion will focus on other options available through the continuum of care, which is a collection of healthcare services that includes family, home care, assisted living, and other care options.
Getting care from a spouse can be an ideal alternative to a nursing home for many older adults, but this option is only available to seniors with a living spouse who is still capable of providing care. Getting help from children and other family members is also an option, but these solutions typically only work for older adults who need minimal assistance.
For older adults who need more care than a spouse can provide, in-home services are a good option. They typically offer a variety of care levels, depending on the needs of the client. These services can be pricey, but in some states, Medicaid offers some coverage through their Home and Community-Based Services.
Another way to minimize the cost of in-home care is with adult day care programs, which can provide company, meals, entertainment, exercise, and transportation for a couple of hours every day. Furthermore, long-term care insurance typically covers adult day care, so this may be an option you’re already paying for.
Sometimes, moving to a new house can facilitate care for an older adult. Not only can a smaller home save money, but the right house can also alleviate certain maintenance and management issues, including:
Depending on the situation and needs of the senior, these problems could be solved by moving into subsidized housing for low-income seniors, a condo where outdoor maintenance is taken care of, a senior apartment that has no stairs, or closer to family who can help with daily activities.
Assisted living communities offer support and companionship, and they’re more affordable than nursing homes. They provide regular monitoring rather than 24-hour care, and they can assist with all the activities of daily living, including dressing, eating, toileting, bathing, and getting in and out of bed. They offer private living spaces, kitchen facilities as well as meals, transportation, opportunities to socialize, and enough supervision to ensure that older adults can live comfortably, safely, and independently.
These are specialized living facilities equipped to help older adults with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other memory impairments and cognitive diseases. Memory care facilities are often separate units, wings, or floors within assisted living communities or residential care facilities, and they’re often locked or secured so that residents aren’t able to wander off.
The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives out there to nursing home care. Medicaid coverage may help offset costs, especially the Medicaid spousal protection, which provides a basic level of support to the independent spouse while the partner receives long-term care. Long-term care insurance is also an option, as this covers some or all of the costs associated with nursing home care, assisted living facilities, home care, and other options, but the problem is that premiums are on the rise and fewer insurance companies are offering this product.
For older adults who don’t need as much care, moving to a smaller home, closer to family, and into a senior apartment are often choice alternatives to insurance and nursing homes.